Stolen medals mysteriously returned
Medals stolen from a former New Zealand Army Major - who was too devastated to attend Anzac Day without them - have been returned to his Porirua home under cover of darkness.
Earlier this year, Steven Heller, 58, was so dismayed to find someone had pinched eight medals spanning his 27 years of military service in the New Zealand and Australian defence forces from his home that he did not attend an Anzac Day ceremony for the first time in half a century.
But he was filled with relief when his partner found the unharmed medals, along with a stolen formal jacket, rolled up in a plastic bag left at his front door early on Thursday morning.
‘‘She was wondering why our cat wasn’t going outside the cat door. She thought it might have been stuck,’’ Heller said.
‘‘Everything’s in the same condition as I left it in my wardrobe. It was quite emotional for me.’’
He felt ‘‘fairly confident’’ whoever had taken the medals would not be able to do much with them thanks to their uniqueness, as well as the accompanying media attention.
‘‘But I was hoping beyond hope they hadn’t just biffed them in the bin.’’
The medals included recog- nition of Heller’s time served with the Australian Defence Force, with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) for work in the former Yugoslavia, and in various other hot spots.
They were attached to a sports blazer.
Heller, who now works for the Ministry of Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, said the last time he wore them was to a funeral in January.
‘‘It’s a jacket that no-one else has got, and there’s quite a few people in the army who know who wears it. There’s no point in trying to wear it anywhere, people would know who it belongs to.’’
They were only kept in one place, there were no signs of forced entry, and the home was alarmed - the code for which has now been changed.
Heller had attended Anzac Day events since he was 5 years old.
He was introduced to the commemorations by his grandfather, who fought in World War II.